A Few Words on … Antici

…pation!

So my nails had gotten to the point where they were just hanging on by a wing and a prayer.  Remember the just hang in there posters with the kitten on a clothesline?  That was  my nails.  Except more like this.

Two of my nails got caught on something and got torn off backwards right down to the quick within three days of each other.  One of them even involved bleeding, both involved swearing.  That’s when I decided they’d gone past the point of saving.  So I pulled a Snake Plissken and hit reset on everything.  That’s right, they all got cut off and filed down!  You know how whenever you see (accidentally, of course) a picture of a celebrity without makeup and your involuntary reaction is always ‘Yikes!’?  Well, here’s a look at the current state of my nails in all their naked, unvarnished glory:

WARNING:  The following material may disturb more sensitive viewers.  Viewer discretion is advised.

 

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Yikes!

 

Two days later, this appeared in my mailbox:

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Yes, that’s right.  The new Zoya Magical Pixie Dust Collection for Summer!  Want a closer look at these beauties?  Of course you do!

 

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Ordering to delivery time?  Slightly less than a week.  And yet somehow within that time frame I managed to completely forget that I ordered them and hacked off all the nails.  I couldn’t wait two days so that I could at least just swatch them on my remaining good nails?  Apparently not.  I blame a fit of momentary madness.  Like when you reach that point where you just can’t take it anymore and your hair must be cut NOW!  So you hack it off with some scissors/a butcher knife/whatever’s on hand with the thought of ‘whatever, it’ll grow back’.

So whatever, they’ll grow back.  But I want to see what my new polish looks like NOW!  And on my actual nails, not on my swatch sticks.  NOW!

Remember that Bette Midler song “From a Distance”?  I remember reading (in a book about pianos) that Julie Gold wrote that song one night when her piano had just been delivered and all she could do was look at it.  I can’t remember whether it was a new piano or a new place and her piano had just arrived.  Either way, when a piano has been moved you have to wait until it settles and adjusts to the temperature and humidity of its new environment before you can play it.  So she spent the night just looking across the room at her piano and not being able to touch it.

So that’s me and my Magical Pixie Dusts right now.  Did I happen to mention that the new OPI Coca-Cola Collection is currently winging its way towards me as well?  Whatever, delayed gratification builds character.  Or, as that noted philosopher Kanye Clarkson Nietzsche once observed, that which doesn’t kill me can only serve to make me stronger.  Yeah!

So what does this all mean in the bigger picture?  It means that after I finish off the reviews I have in the queue that it’s going to be time to roll out all the nudes and neutrals while waiting for nature to take its course.  For even more entertainment, I suggest starting a drinking game that involves taking a shot every time I manage to come up with yet another way to describe beige…

 

 

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OPI – Can’t Find My Czechbook

This was part of the Spring 2013 Euro Centrale Collection.  I think I “only” got four from that collection and three of them (not sure about the fourth) were added to the permanent line.  Does that mean that I have good taste or I’m just pedestrian and part of the crowd?  I’m going with the former…

Can’t Find My Czechbook (har, har) is perfect in every way!  It’s got the exceptional formula that most of the OPI cremes have and could probably be a one coater.  Plus it’s a deep turquoise blue that doesn’t have any green in it.  That might sound weird, but most really blue turquoise is kind of washed out and this has a beautiful pigmentation.

I want to call it robin’s egg blue, but I think it might be a bit deeper than that.  Or maybe sky blue? Or a darker Tiffany blue? I don’t know.  What I do know is that I’m not very fond of the color blue, outside of some very specific shades, and this is one of them.  It’s smooth and clear and just… well, just perfect!

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Nail Art – Easter Watercolor with OPI Sheer Tints

When I got the mini pack of the Sheer Tints, I wasn’t sure exactly what I was going to do with them.  Did that stop me from wanting them?  Ha!  I wasn’t really looking for anything at the time, but I was reading some reviews on them and saw some ideas at Phoenix Beauty Lounge.

I must say that I think I got more comments on this mani that I’ve ever had before.  Of course, I routinely get comments from women, especially at places like Sally or Ulta because people there are more likely to be into that kind of stuff.  But when the guy at Lowe’s notices them while cutting your PVC pipe, now that’s something!

I wasn’t completely happy with this one, but that was due to the crap job I did on the white polish (OPI Alpine Snow).  I loved how the Sheer Tint effects turned out, so I’m going to do it again some time, but use a different lacquer for my undies.  I’m thinking that one of my white jellies might be really nice and add even more delicacy to the look.  I pretty much just used the Alpine Snow so I could get it out of the way and check it off  of the review list.

It was really yucky, but I’m not laying all the blame on Alpine Snow’s doorstep.  Opaque creme whites are probably one of the toughest colors there is as far as getting a good formula.  If it’s not streaky, it’s globby, if it’s not runny, chalky.  This pretty  much had the consistency of Liquid Paper.  But I’m willing to cut it a little slack, because it’s a mini bottle that I’ve had a long time so that could have a great deal to do with it being gunky, as well as using the tiny brush.  And I’ll concede that it’s possible that there was some operator error involved as well.  I’ve used it before and, while I’ve never been really thrilled with it, I don’t recall it being this bad.

Here’s the tremendously bad picture I took for posterity:

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Now to the good stuff!

I described the whole idea behind the Sheer Tints in my previous post, but I’ll put in the picture again just for a reference point on the colors.

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From left to right –  I’m Never Amberrassed,  Be Magentale With Me, Don’t Violet Me Down and I Can Teal You Like Me.  Yeah, I know.  They  must stay awake at night thinking up this stuff…..

This was really easy and looks so much more impressive that it actually should.  The most frequent comment was “Did you do that yourself?” Followed closely by “Are those your real nails?”.  To which both of my answers are the same.  “If I was paying someone to do this, I would have made them redo the white base and if I was paying for fake nails they’d at least all be the same length!”  Well, that was the answer in my head.  My out loud answer was a very witty “Yes.”

I started with the white undies, which is basically like primering your walls so you have an even color when you paint them a different color.  Then, one by one, I just painted on streaks and strokes of each color, overlapping them to create even more colors.  I should have taken a photo before the top coat because, while it looked okay, it was when I put on the Seche Vite that the magic occurred.  Besides making them shine like crazy, it also blended the colors without muddying them, which was how I got the Monet effect.  Please ignore the raggedy edges, I did manage to smooth them out a little the next day before I inflicted them on an unsuspecting public….

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The next picture is the bottle shot.  Yes, all of those different shades were created with just those four colors!

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My verdict on the Sheer Tints is resoundingly positive!  Once my nails grow back (more on that later), I want to really play around with some different techniques and some monochromatic stuff.  At some point I’ll probably add an additional review showing how all of the colors look by themselves rather than blended.  I should have done that before, but didn’t think of it  until now and, honestly, I wouldn’t really have had the time lately anyway.

A Few Words on … Abandonment (and something new!)

So for the last month and a half, life has been a bitch and three quarters.  Some things had to give and, unfortunately, blogging the Quest was one of them.  Even more unfortunately, my nails were also one of those things.  It’s a mixed bag, half of them still look decent, half of them are stumps and my cuticles look like they’ve been through the Boer War (and back).

One hand is still relatively camera ready, but I haven’t had the time to do more than slap on some polish and go.  Luckily, I still have some past manicure pictures in the can!  I wasn’t sure about doing some of them because I don’t think the pictures turned out very well but, if I don’t have some new ones before I run out of the backlog, I might post them anyway.

My next post will be nail art that I did for Easter.  It’s a watercolor effect using the new OPI Sheer Tint topcoats:

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I love these things!  They’re basically just a tiny bit of pigment added to the clear base.  But somehow they have an amazing depth of color for how sheer they are (even more so than jellies).  Even though they are meant to be topcoats to change the color of your existing polish, all I can think about are the endless nail art opportunities!  Unfortunately, I haven’t been able to find any full sizes, except the amber one on Ulta’s website.  When the new Ulta opens down the street, I’ll have to check it out since they should have all new stock.  They haven’t been on Sally’s website or in the store, so I think they are just getting in the new collections.

But let’s be real, I’ll probably never completely use up the minis, since I’m not planning on using them as full manis.  Although the possibility of creating something similar to a jelly sandwich just occurred to me…

 

 

 

 

A Few Words on … Willpower

So in my last post I mentioned that I get suckered into trying to love butterLONDON every time Ulta has a B2G1 sale.  So what was I supposed to do when Ulta had its semi-annual 31 Days of Beauty promo and one of the daily Beauty Steals was two BL for $15?  That’s a BOGO deal!  Will I be twice the sucker on this one?  Let’s find out…

My BL collection stands at the same count as before the BS (ha!) of the day happened.  How did I manage this?  It was a multi-pronged approach that leaned heavily on the lazy-ass tine.

Ulta is abut a 20 mile round trip, which saves me enormous amounts of money.  But I had talked myself into going on BL day because I wanted to find a specific shade of OPI  and look at the new Zoyas.  I also wanted to check out the clearance rack because, you know, half price stuff!

As the day wore on and I kept putting it off and vacillating back and forth on the wisdom of succumbing to the siren call of the BOGO, I decided to check out the BL colors online to make my selections in advance.  Ordering online was an option, but is less preferred for a couple of reasons.  1. They don’t sell Zoya online 2. You can’t see the colors in person 3. Shipping.

After giving it a bit of  rationalization deep thought, I came up with advantages to ordering online.  1. They had the OPI shade I wanted, while the store might not 2. The same might be true of any BLs that I selected 3. The gas spent on the trip would be about the same as shipping and 4. I didn’t have to get dressed.

Yay! I’m all set to go, BL here I come!  Wait, I’m supposed to be mowing through the lacquers I have, not adding to it.  And I already broke up with BL.  The next review in line was the one for Wallis, so I started writing it in my head.  Starting with all of the reasons why I don’t like BL.

Bottom line:  I ordered NOTHING.  Nil. Bupkis. Sweet FA.  I am a rock.  Encased in steel.  Surrounded by an electric force field that nothing can penetrate.  I am TI-TAY-NEE-UMMMM!!

The next day I went to Sally because I needed shampoo.

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That’s just the nail lacquer portion of my purchase.  The China Glaze was BOGO (and it’s less than half the price of BL to start with), the Gwen Stefani (far left) was on clearance (half price!  And that was the last bottle of Hey Baby they had!) and the other two OPI I had already planned on purchasing at some point.  So, there’s that.

I forgot to get the shampoo….

 

A Few Words on … Seche Vite

Well, probably more than a few words… I could talk all day about my darling!

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Ah….where to start?  Well, in French, seche means dry and vite means fast.  And they’re not kidding around!  While some top coats seem to define fast as ‘proceeding genteelly at a leisurely to moderate pace’, Seche Vite is already finished, washed up and lying back smoking a cigarette.  Seriously, by the time you finish with the tenth nail, the first ones are dry.  Well, maybe not completely dry if you just slop it on like a madwoman in a total of about 5 seconds like I do, but if you go at a sane rate of speed, yes.

SV, as it’s affectionately called, is not Big 3 free.  Which is probably why it works so well.  Healthy, schmealthy, I want my nails to shine like the top of the Chrysler Building!  The only drawback (for me, personally) is that once you open a bottle of SV, the toluene (one of the Big 3) will start to evaporate and eventually your sweet SV will become thick sludge.  It depends on how fast you use it and how tight you keep it closed, but this will usually start to happen around the halfway point.  For me it’s usually around the 3/4 to almost empty point, but I change my nail colour a lot so I use more than average.

But, never fear!  Seche has a solution for you!  I present to you, Seche Restore:

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Which is basically water, rubbing alcohol and toluene.  It comes with an eye dropper (a pipette if you’re French or fancy) and you just add it to your old, tired SV until it’s back to life.  Seche cautions you to not use regular thinner, but I’ve heard (and by heard I mean read on the internet) that it will work fine.  I’ve never tried it but since thinner costs like 1.89 for a 20 gallon drum and Seche Restore is 9 or 10 bucks for half an ounce, I’m going to try it some time.  Maybe on a bottle I have that only has a tiny bit of SV left in it, that way I don’t waste half a bottle of SV in my experiment.

For me, that’s really the only downside.  It’s dry to the touch in under a minute, you can eat salty peanuts in 30 minutes and I’ve actually taken a full-fledged, hot as hell shower (including shampoo) a couple hours after doing my nails with not as much as a nick or a smudge.  Not only does it dry fast, but it dries to a beautiful, glassy finish that wears like iron.  After a minute, give your nails the “click test”.  Tap the nails of one hand on the nails of the other.  Rather than a normal tapping sound, you’ll get clicking that sounds like stiletto heels on a marble floor.  Fabulous!

Some people do experience what’s called “shrinkage”.  I haven’t personally, but I don’t know if it’s body chemistry, base coat (I generally use OPI or Seche Clear), operator error or a combination of factors.  Shrinkage is when the polish pulls back from the edge of your nail, leaving a bare little strip.  General wisdom is that it dries so fast that the evaporation can make the polish draw up.  One way to combat that is to ‘wrap your tips’ or ‘wrap your edges’.  This is just a fancy way of saying to swipe a little polish along the edge of your fingernail tip.  Even though I don’t have a problem with it, I try to remember to wrap just because it helps prevent tip wear and it makes the nail look finished.  I succeed in remembering approximately 25-30% of the time….

So what’s the catch, you might say, I bet it costs a fortune.  Au contraire!  Sometimes you do not get what you pay for.  I have an $18 bottle of butterLONDON PDQ Hardwear that’s crap and takes forever to dry (and by forever I mean like 30 minutes).  SV is like 8 or 9 bucks, basically the cost of a drugstore brand.  I’m not sure of the exact cost because I usually get it when Sally has a deal like buy Seche Clear (base coat) get Seche Vite free or when it’s packaged with a nail polish for a promo.  Other than that, I get the Bahama Mama refill size because I’m just crazy like that.

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Yep, you read that right, four full ounces.  Here’s a comparison shot with a regular sized bottle for scale:

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Even without the evaporation factor, SV isn’t as thin as a lot of top coats out there.  For the best results, don’t paint it on your nails as you would normally, get a little dollop on your brush, drop it on your nail and then spread it out like you would spread honey on toast.  Sweet and smooth!

Side note:  For reference, the polish that I’m wearing in the bottle shots is OPI Can’t Find My Czechbook.  I’ve already got the pictures in the can and I’ll be doing a review post on that in the near future.  I think that manicure was almost a week old when I took the Seche pictures, so you can see how well both OPI and Seche Vite wear!

A Few Words on… Rationalization

Q:  What do you do when you have so many bottles of nail lacquer that you can’t decide which color to use?

A:  Go out and buy more!

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Rationalization:

  •  I got four OPI minis for less than the cost of  one and a half full bottles, and I was considering two or three  of them.
  • The Zoya was on clearance at Ulta.  And I have no pale yellows at all,  much less with a shimmer.  You can’t fight kismet…
  • After my Sally Club discount, a 15% off coupon and a BOGO offer, the FingerPaints were less than $2.00 each!  And the only FingerPaints I’ve ever tried are the stripers, so it qualifies as research.

OPI – Strawberry Margarita

There are usually at least a couple polishes from OPI’s seasonal collections that really make a splash and are added to their open stock.  Strawberry Margarita was first introduced in the Mexico Collection way back in 2006, but then was awarded a spot in the permanent lineup.

A position that is well earned, as this is a really great pink and one of the best summer polishes you’ll find.  I wear this a lot in the summer, but I wore it to Ulta recently so I could compare it to the new Kiss Me I’m Brazilian shade from the spring collection.  Lots of times I see a color and fall in love with it and MUST HAVE IT!, then I get it home and realize I already have one or more colors almost just like it.   Since I already had it on, I decided to go ahead and get the review out of the way.

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The picture shows it as more coral than it really is, in person it’s a dark pink that’s….well that’s pretty much the color of a strawberry margarita!  I’d call it a rose, with no orange and no leaning into red territory.  It’s a bright one, but not a glaring neon.  A shade that can really go anywhere but it shines in the summer sun.  Of which there isn’t any right now…

As OPI usual, the formula is a dream.  Smooth, creamy and excellent coverage in two coats.  I don’t have the bottle in the shot because it’s a mini, and if it had been a full size brush, one coat might have done it.  And topped with some Seche Vite, it’s one of those that look so squishy and juicy that you just want to bite into it (but I wouldn’t recommend doing so!).

In answer to the burning question of this post, Kiss Me I’m Brazilian and Strawberry Margarita aren’t even close.  KMIB is a much lighter pink, more of a bubblegum, but a little softer.  So did I get it?  Oh yeah, but I was good and just got the mini!

OPI – Stranger Tides

Well, my pictures are looking a little ragged and my nails aren’t much better, but if everybody waited for everything to be perfect then not much would get done, now would it?  So, let’s just say to hell with it and light this candle!

OPI does two full collections in the spring and fall with geographic themes (this spring it’s Brazil).  In between those, they do a small collection which is generally tied in with a summer movie (this year it’s Muppets Most Wanted).  In 2011, the summer movie was Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides and this polish is from that collection.

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With the exception of a few shades that I love, I’m not much of a green fan (nail polish or otherwise) and never would have gotten this if it hadn’t been part of the mini bottle set.  Which is one reason that I love minis, because so often those polishes that I would never buy separately become favourites.  Such is the case with Stranger Tides.

From the outside of the bottle it looks like sickly pea green.  On the nail, it becomes a soft sage that’s dirtied up to give it some interest.  I really love colors that might otherwise be pastel when they’re muddy and grungy!  This one becomes surprisingly neutral when wearing it, not the same old boring beige and taupe, but also not one that screams GREEN!! at you.

There aren’t many that do a good old fashioned creme like OPI does and Stranger Tides is no exception.  The first coat is a little streaky, but not nearly as much as most light greens and blues are, and it evens out beautifully with the second coat.  Although I could get away with two coats on most polishes, I usually give an extra one for the Corps.  Just because….

Top it off with a coat of my beloved Seche Vite, and there you have it!  I like this one so much that I not only purchased a full size bottle in addition to the mini, but I might have gone overboard (ha!) and purchased several.  I need to do something about this back up compulsion of mine….